Sunday, September 24, 2006

The Red Badge of Courage - Continued...

You may remember my mentioning that I had begun a soul-searching journey. A journey that I have taken before but as I approach a certain age I felt it was time to embark once again on an inner trip exploring where I have come from and where it is that I want to go. Well I have been traveling. I promised to send you a post card from time to time….

After coffee one morning with Matt It became apparent that I had really not charted a proper course through the back roads of Self Confidence but rather I had somehow taken a sly shortcut through the path of Self Doubt, Regret and Relying on Others for Approval. So after asking for my husband’s approval in some lame-ass and round about way for the 2 billionth time in this 21-year blissful relationship…I set out for a walk.

I won’t lie the pace was brisk and my temper had the best of me. Angry at him for not giving me the answer of “Oh my dear you are always wonderful!” But incredibly angry with myself for dwelling in such a hovel of self-depreciating behavior for so long. I set out with Nina’s iPod juiced up with her latest Halloween play list of spooky but lovely eerie music. I walked out of the little housing tract of suburbia headed straight down the road for this nature preserve/wooded area.

As I deliberately headed into the woods I felt like a child running away from home. “Ha – see if I come back!” I headed into the thicker part of the woods and it actually got a bit dark even at 8:00 am. I began to regret walking that far and thought to myself surely there must be some folks down on their luck that sleep out there at night and well, with the scary music playing, I began to feel very frightened. Still I walked further and instead of turning and ditching I decided to stay with the feelings of fear.

I took the opportunity to think of all the fearful things in my life. All the times that were frightening, all the episodes that I have imagined in my head that scare me. I walked and thought about everything that could go wrong or that has gone wrong in my life. I began to cry at the thought of all of those possibilities and the memories of all that had passed.

Somewhere between the kaleidoscope shadows of the trees and the eerie music I got the idea that I should leave all the misery there. Just leave those horrible feelings in the woods. It really seemed like the perfect home for my low self-esteem. It would be happy there in the woods with the ground ripening and the occasional breeze that rustled the trees in an uncomfortable and lonely way.

It was about at that moment when I felt a tightening in my throat and a clenching in my chest. I thought – oooh this is not a good place for a heart attack – no one knew I was in there and no one would ever find me! So I began to walk faster and I started coughing very hard. After what was an unverving amount of throat clenching and coughing I realized that this was my decision moment and that I needed to simply tell myself that I was through with looking to others for approval. I told myself that I was through looking at my self as less than what I really am – a very strong, talented and courageous woman that is capable and able to make my own way and that I am proud of where I have come to in my life right now with no regrets.

Absolutely at that moment the clenching and tightening released and I could see the clearing from the trees. I wiped away my tears and headed out into the clearing and climbed up the embankment back on the road and back into suburbia. I walked a way and then turned back to see the thicket of trees where I had left my low self-esteem. It was a beautiful place for all the feelings of being “less than” to reside. It made a perfect home for all of my regrets and doubts. I was free walking along the road. With every step I felt stronger and freer.

I had not noticed when I left that morning feeling angry that I had actually set out with suitcase in hand to deposit these old and tired feelings packed in the case. I had not realized that the anger that fueled my steps was my unwillingness to continue in this way for one day more.

I was back on the road to my life with one less suitcase to carry feeling lighter and much stronger.